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May 02, 2007

Edwards rejects "War on Terror" phrase

Good for John Edwards for rejecting "Global War on Terror" as a Republican buzzword.

"This political language has created a frame that is not accurate and that Bush and his gang have used to justify anything they want to do," Edwards said in a phone interview from Everett, Wash. "It's been used to justify a whole series of things that are not justifiable, ranging from the war in Iraq, to torture, to violation of the civil liberties of Americans, to illegal spying on Americans. Anyone who speaks out against these things is treated as unpatriotic. I also think it suggests that there's a fixed enemy that we can defeat with just a military campaign. I just don't think that's true." [TIME]

I've been arguing against the meaningless "war on terror" catchphrase for years. Maybe it's ot too late to reverse the reflexive substitution of "terror" for "terrorism".



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Or, as Jon Stewart said "We declared war on terror. We declared war on terror--it's not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I'm sure we'll take on that bastard ennui. "

What can I tell you - I'm really glad Edwards thinks fighting terrorism is a bad idea.

Hopefully, the Democrats will stop listening to charlatans who engage in framing tactics and start promoting politicians who actually do something useful. Having a left-wing version of Frank Luntz around is in nobody's interests.

With respect to the Bush/Cheney project, Borat's phrase "War of Terror" is more accurate.

Hear hear! It's especially appropriate to ditch the phrase now, after the fourth anniversary of the whole "Iraq is one victory of the War on Terror" Mission Accomplished codpiece charade.

Be nice if the Democrats also ditched the phrase "Homeland Security", too...

I'm really glad Edwards thinks fighting terrorism is a bad idea.

What a remarkably stupid thing to say. Not to depress you or anything, but Edwards thinks fighting terrorists is a jim-dandy idea. Of course you wrote "fighting terrorism" which is a tactic rather than a group, making it much harder to fight.

The irony that you made immediately followed this comment with a slam on word games is just plain delicious.

I commend Edwards on his courage. The Democrats should not accept the frame that the Republicans have placed on 9-11 and the Iraq War.

I wonder if Edwards, or any Democratic candidate, will show similar courage in attacking the phrase "The War On Drugs?" The civil rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s was limited, controlled and, to some extent, rolled back by a political alliance that used the phrase "War On Drugs" to justify its policies.

What a remarkably stupid thing to say.

It's how it'll get spun. You don't start complaining about fighting terrorism; you say, "Iraq has hurt the global war on terror" and segue to your own plan to fight terrorism, which should preferably involve a maximum of intelligence and a minimum of bombing random countries.

The Democrats should not accept the frame that the Republicans have placed on 9-11 and the Iraq War.

I'd rather they start by not accepting the idea that foreign policy equals war. Edwards cosponsored the Iraq war resolution, and now supports saber-rattling with Iran. To me that's what matters; the terms he chooses to use are really just comic relief.

Yeah, sorry Alon. Only after I'd posted did I realize what you were getting at.

I think there is value in exploring framing issues. GWOT is a stupid and misleading phrase, but we may be stuck with it. If a better framing exists though, it's worth exploring.

Make mine the war against Al Qaeda and their allies. And yes, the president and his allies can lie about who Al Qaeda's allies are, as when they lied about Saddam -- but no nomenclature can stop liars from lying.

Terrror is unambiguously a noun.

Well, if the bold political philosophers of the DailyKos diaries have taught me anything, it's all political battles can be won with framing, which I shall frame as "sitting on one'as ass and quibbling about terminology in one's DailyKos diary." So, way to go, John!

What's disappointing is that there is a lot conceptually wrong with the GWOT phrase, but Edwards only very briefly touches on anything ther than that Bush has used it to do bad things. I'd love for Edwards to articulate his foreign policy in more detail than "what Bush did in the last four years was bad" and that it was Bush's fault he voted for the RAUMF, etc.

And Alon's right, not wanting to fight terrorism is how this is going to get spun.

It's okay, Togolosh. I wasn't clear in my first comment.

The way I see it, what counts is the correct analogy, not the terminology. The most problematic part of the way the US is fighting Al-Qaida isn't the use of terms like "War on terror," but the repeated analogies to World War Two. You can't fight terror effectively using a military approach, at least not beyond short-run campaigns like the initial attack on Afghanistan. Fighting Al-Qaida is more like fighting the mafia than like fighting the Nazis. The best existing American analogy is to how the war on drugs should've been fought. An even better though less familiar analogy is Peru's campaign against Shining Path, which is both a success of hard detective skills and a failure of military campaigns.

Hey, if the commamder guy says it's a "war on terror", then it's a war on fucking terror, goddamnit! I don't care if it's a fucking abstract concept; we're still going to kick it's abstract ass.

Now is the time for all good men to serve their country. Firmly affix your bayonets to your keyboards, gentlemen. We're off to war!. Lindsay, blow us a kiss and wave your tear-stained handkerchief at us as we depart for our mothers' basements. We may not emerge from them for a while. At least until actual combat is over.

The "war on terror" is the war against the United States, Israel and the UK.

It is oxymoronic, because how can the United States wage a war against itself?

In that sense, everyone of good conscience should support the 'war on terror.'

The American way of life (death), is terror incarnate.

All accurate political analysis begins at that point.

Everything else is chaff in the wheat.

State terror? Never heard of it.

War on Terroir? What do they care about where my wine comes from?

I had assumed that the recent widespread buzz about framing in the blogs I read was energized in part by a concern that it is a stealth tool, that it is a kind of rhetorical neutron bomb that can head off thinking without the usual conspicuous bluster of political persuasion. Lakoff told us the repulicans used it without our realizing.

Aside from smart people who read Majikthise, will many people get what Edwards is up to here? Can he, by such overt means, reset the frame the repblicans established?

Anyway, I agree it is exactly what we need in the national debate on our security and military agendas. And I hope he does pull it off.

If only we'd declared "War on Al Qaeda". That way, we're fighting a particular organization and its real allies (like the Taliban), we're driving a wedge between Bin Ladin and the rest of the Muslim world, and setting an objective--destroying the capability and credibility of the terror group responsible for 9/11--that can actually be achieved. Instead we break out this amorphous term "terror" and put the whole world in the crosshairs. What a missed opportunity.

I still think you're overestimating the influence of words. The "War on terror" phrase is just as capable of driving a wedge between Al-Qaida and the rest of the Muslim world. The only additional groups it includes are other Islamist terrorist groups, like Hezbollah and Hamas. What caused the Arab world to start sympathizing with Bin Laden more wasn't the declaration of war on terror, but the attack on Iraq, which Edwards was a cosponsor of in Congress.

People are a lot better at distinguishing actions from words than political operatives give them credit for. That's especially true in areas where there is deep cynicism about everything politicians say, such as the Middle East. In the Arab world, local political leaders have been failing to deliver on promises of peace and prosperity for 50 years. Politicians who use framing tactics will get correctly painted as phonies within minutes.

Edwards made a major error with that remark.

One of the few things that the Republicans have going for them lately is the perception among the public that the Democrats/liberals are weak on national security issues. A perception that has great truth behind it.

And now, Mr. Edwards hands Giuliani and the Republicans this sword to use against them. Not smart. Not one bit.

It's okay, he's not going to win the nomination anyway. Clinton would never say such a thing; she errs the other way.

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